The Freestanding Sage in the Daodejing

The free-standing sage (i.e., outside the “Therefore the sage” formula) appears six or seven* times in the Daodejing. Two of the Wang Pi text’s chapters which include the free-standing sage (chapters 5 and 19)  are found in the Guodian text without the sage. Chapter 19 is hostile to the sage in any case  and thus not a trustworthy source (exterminate the sage, discard the wise, and the people will benefit a hundredfold), and I will  leave it out of this discussion for that reason. (more…)

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 12:34 am  Comments (1)  

The “Nei Ye” and the Daodejing

In his book Original Dao (Columbia, 1999) Harold Roth has argued that the “Nei Ye” chapter of the Guanzi is a guide to meditation produced within an organized teacher-student lineage devoted primarily to the arts of “cultivation of life” (meditation, diet, ritual, and physical practices), and that the  Daodejing, a handbook of political wisdom, is the product of a late politicized stage of this same school, or of a branch of the school. Roth’s theory is a beginning toward giving a definite answer to the question “What kind of book is the Daodejing?”, a question which has divided Daodejing interpreters more or less from the beginning. (more…)

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Comments (2)  

Primitivism in the Daodejing

A.C. Graham has distinguished between Individualists, Primitivists, and Syncretists among the early Daoists, with the first group dedicated to self-cultivation and meditation, the second advocating a kind of peasant anarchism, and the third adapting Daoist principles for the ruler’s use. In his book Original Dao Harold Roth has argued that the “Nei Ye” chapter in the Guanzi and parts of the Daodejing represent the Individualist contemplative strain of Daoism, whereas other parts of the Daodejing are Primitivist or Syncretist. I generally agree with Roth, and have defined an Individualist “early layer” within the text of the Daodejing which has many points in common with Roth’s “Nei Ye”. (more…)

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

淸 情 靜 精 性 生 名 明 命 盈 常

One characteristic of the oldest Chinese texts noted by David Schaberg is significant throughout the history of Chinese culture. During the Shang and early Zhou dynasties, the royal style of command required a special language: “The bronze inscriptions and the oldest Zhou songs favor phrases ending in words with –ng finals, whether or not these words make for rhymes. Words that rhyme in the yang 陽 (OC –ang) dong 東 (OC –ng) and 耕 geng (OC –eng) categories include many of the most important words in this special language”, with –n words (元 yuan, 真 zhen, and 文 wen categories) being drawn into the pattern as well. (more…)

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment